Traditional by Leland Martin
Album review by: Cheryl H. Hill, Journalist
From his bio: Leland Martin believes in miracles. And why not? With
his debut single, "If I Had Long Legs (Like Alan Jackson),"
he's already accomplished the impossible, sneaking a little slice of
authentic honky-tonk hilarity past country radio's gatekeepers and onto
My husband is career Army and we are in the midst of our seventeenth
move in twenty-one years. I offer this up as an excuse for not
getting this album review finished sooner. My excuse is also relevant to
the way I reviewed this album. As my husband and I packed our two cars
for our trip from Fort Irwin to Fort Sill, I loaded up my CD carrier
with all of my favorite albums. Being a devoted fan of traditional
country I made sure I had put all of "The Best of" ... (Merle,
Willie, Tracy Lawrence, Randy Travis, etc.) CD's into my car. As an
after thought, I tossed in Leland Martin. I usually listen to new
CDs while I'm working at my computer, but with my entire office on a
moving van somewhere between California and Oklahoma, I decided I that
it might be a good idea to listen to him while I could -- where I could.
Besides, with an album titled Simply Traditional, I was
eager to put him to the test and give Mr. Martin the ultimate listening
analysis. Would he be able to hold his own in the company of some of the
greatest country music artists of all time? After listening to him for
two days as I drove across Nevada, Arizona and Texas -- and alternating
his CD with country legends -- I can tell you that he certainly can.
The album contains thirteen songs plus two Christmas bonus tracks. Being
an Army veteran, who is married to a career soldier, I loved the
patriotic "Flags On The Christmas Tree." The song is
beautifully written and beautifully sung. I'm sure it will become a
holiday classic, especially with military families and friends ... but
do yourself a favor and don't wait until Christmas to listen to it.
In the eighties, Martin toured as a guitarist with the legendary Freddie
Hart. He wrote "Freddie's Heart" as a tribute to his former
boss, and Hart makes a vocal cameo appearance on the CD when he joins
Martin on this song. Their duet is the personification of consummate
country and one of the highlights of the album.
Like all great songwriters, Martin draws from his own life experiences,
and his life has provided him with plenty of musical fodder. His bio
reveals that his father left his mother and his eight siblings when he
was only six. He was steadily working in bars by the time he was
fifteen, and was married just three days shy of his 17th birthday (much
to his credit -- and his wife's -- they are still married nearly three
"I attribute a lot of the sound of my music to paying my dues by
growing up poor, a lot of 'hard work' jobs, and hitting a lot of brick
walls in the pursuit of a music career," Martin says. "If
you actually wrote all about my life, people wouldn't believe it."
The first single released from the album is the humorous and cleverly
written ode to the icons of country music, "If I Had Long Legs
(like Alan Jackson)." Although Martin pokes fun at himself
when he sings about the celebrity attributes he is lacking, there is
much more than humor on this album, and it won't take you to the end of
the CD to realize that Martin isn't really lacking anything when it
comes to writing or singing great country music. Simply
Traditional has all the required components to live up to its title.
On a scale of 1 to 5 - I'm going to give it a 4. I really enjoyed
it and with thirteen songs plus two Christmas bonus tracks, you get more
than your money's worth.